By Aisha Jabbarova
May 8 used to be a painful day in Azerbaijan’s history, marking the occupation of the country’s Shusha city by the Armenian forces in 1992. For 28 years, this pain would resurface, reminding Azerbaijanis of the loss of Shusha – the cradle of Azerbaijani culture and history. Shusha’s occupation had become the symbol of Azerbaijan’s painful loss in the war in the early 1990s.
Today, May 8 no longer resonates with pain and loss but rather with triumph and victory as the country liberated Shusha from the Armenian occupation in the war last year. After 28 years of occupation, Shusha has become the symbol of Azerbaijan’s victory.
Shusha was the last Azerbaijani city to be liberated, cementing Azerbaijan’s victory in the brief war that lasted from September 27 to November 10.
Shusha’s liberation was announced by President Ilham Aliyev in his address to the nation on November 8.
“You are free, dear Shusha! We are back, dear Shusha! We will revive you, dear Shusha!,” Aliyev said in his historic speech.
Thousands of Azerbaijanis took to the streets in Baku and across the country to celebrate Shusha’s liberation and the army’s advances in war. Shusha's liberation was also celebrated by Azerbaijanis around the world.
Shusha’s significance is not only in its strategic and military importance but also in its cultural and moral value for the Azerbaijani people. Founded by Azerbaijan’s Panahali Khan in 1752, Shusha has been historically the center of Azerbaijani music, culture and art. It’s the birthplace of composers Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Niyazi, poetess Khurshudbanu Natavan, famous singers Bulbul, Rashid bey Behbudov, many Mugham performers and art figures. Azerbaijan will resume its tradition to hold Khari Bulbul Musical Festival that used to be held every year in Shusha until the Armenian occupation in 1992.
The city was also declared Azerbaijan’s cultural capital by the presidential decree on May 7.
Apart from Shusha, 300 other city centers, villages and settlements were liberated from around 30 years of Armenian occupation during the war last year. The liberation of Shusha was followed by the signing of a trilateral peace deal by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders on November 10.
The peace agreement stipulated the return of Azerbaijan's Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions that Armenian had occupied since the early 1990s.
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